The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge in Destin is the only organization in our area licensed to take care of sick or injured wildlife, but a tight budget and inadequate facilities are making its job tougher every day.
It is asking for your help so it can continue to help the animals that can't help themselves.
Since 2000 Carrie Weiser has taken care of injured or sick animals. She works as a volunteer at the refuge, in a small warehouse tucked away in Destin.
Last year the refuge helped around 400 animals. This year the number has grown to 19-hundred.
But despite the growth, Carrie feels the center's days may be numbered.
“We have totally outgrown this facility and our facility is inadequate for housing the types of numbers that we see. We just don't have enough room.”
Carri says sometimes volunteers must even take animals home to help care for them, but Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officials recently inspected the center and did find some issues. Unlicensed volunteers can't take animals home and they say the bird cages must be placed outside.
Refuge officials see a bigger facility as the only solution, but there's where the problem lies. The refuge is privately funded and doesn't have enough money to buy land. Recently, someone has come forward with a land donation but wants to make sure the refuge is serious about construction.
Refuge officials are now asking the community for help in raising $500,000 to go towards that construction.
Ms. Weiser says she confident it will work.
“There's a great community down here and I think people here really do care about the animals. I'm pretty confident people will step forward and help us out.”
Right now they have almost $20,000 and a ways to go. The issue will go before the Destin City Council in two weeks.
If you want more information on how you can help the organization, visit to their website at: www.ecwildliferefuge.com.